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Study assesses risky patient behaviors

In a study with implications for doctors and patients in South Carolina, data collected on nearly 2 million hospital admissions conducted by the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg found that those who left a medical facility too soon more than doubled the risk of complications or death. Just over one percent of patients left before they were given permission to do so by their doctors; those patients were 2.5 times more likely to die within 90 days and were also readmitted at three times the standard rate in the 30 days after they left.

The act of leaving the hospital early could also raise questions if a patient tries to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. About one-fourth of readmissions happened within 24 hours of leaving against the doctor's advice; about 75 percent happened within 14 days. However, patients who chose not to follow the doctor's advice faced risks for as long as six months.

Some of the risks might have occurred because the patients were less cooperative with a doctor's directions, and the group may have had less healthy behaviors overall. The researchers want to plan two additional phases to the study to assess why people don't follow doctor's orders as well as look at personal traits that could contribute to rebelling against a doctor's counsel. Those who typically follow a doctor's advice include cancer patients and someone who had major surgery.

The data for the study was collected from 1990 to 2009. During that time frame, more than 21,000 patients left the hospital early. Going against a doctor's orders could complicate filing a lawsuit for medical malpractice. A personal injury attorney might be able to help clients pursue financial compensation for those times when doctor negligence did occur.

Source: Med Page Today, "Risks of Leaving Hospital Early Quantified", Chris Kaiser, August 26, 2013

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